Details revealed of constitutional amendment to help investigate banks

The Government has today published the wording of a referendum that could see former Taoisigh Brian Cowen and Bertie Ahern, as well as former bankers, appear as witnesses in a banking inquiry.

If passed, it will overturn the Abbeylara judgement and give Oireachtas Committees power to investigate and to make findings of fact.

The public will be asked to vote on the constitutional change on the same day as the Presidential election next month.

The Thirtieth Amendment of the Constitution (Houses of the Oireachtas Inquiries) Bill 2011 sets out the wording of the proposed referendum.

The existing Article 15.10o would be renumbered 15.10.1o. Three new subsections would be inserted as follows:

"2º Each House shall have the power to conduct an inquiry, or an inquiry with the other House, in a manner provided for by law, into any matter stated by the House or Houses concerned to be of general public importance.

"3° In the course of any such inquiry the conduct of any person (whether or not a member of either House) may be investigated and the House or Houses concerned may make findings in respect of the conduct of that person concerning the matter to which the inquiry relates.

"4° It shall be for the House or Houses concerned to determine the appropriate balance between the rights of persons and the public interest for the purposes of ensuring an effective inquiry into any matter to which subsection 2º applies."

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